Historical ore mining sites in Lower Silesia (Poland) as geo-tourism attraction 2017-03-07آ  Acta...

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  • Acta Geoturistica volume 4 (2013), number 1, 15-26


    Historical ore mining sites in Lower Silesia (Poland)

    as geo-tourism attraction


    (E-mail: mmadziarz@cuprum.wroc.pl)


    Article presents the possibilities of using of the remains of old ore mining tradition

    in the Lower Silesia as major attractions of industrial tourism and geo-tourism,

    against a background of the mining development in that area and characteristics of

    the research work conducted systematically for many years at former mining and

    metallurgical sites by the Mining Institute of Wrocław University of Technology.

    The article presents a project for the preservation, conservation and modern-day use

    of the survived remains of tin and cobalt ore mining in the vicinity of Krobica-

    Gierczyn-Przecznica at the foot of the Izerskie Mountains in the neighbourhood of

    Świeradów Zdrój, which is executed by KGHM CUPRUM Sp. z o.o.

    Key words: history, ore mining, exploration and exploitation of deposits,

    Sudety Mountains



    „…There is land of such a nature that if

    you sow, it does not yield crops, but if you

    dig, it nourishes many more than if it had

    borne fruit …”

    This timeless Xenophanes thought was

    cited in the introduction to „De Re

    Metallica” – the first ever complex study

    concerning mining, metallurgy and

    mineralogy, by its author Georgius

    Agricola, a 16 th

    -century researcher,

    scientist, physician and philosopher, one of

    the most eminent intellects of the

    Renaissance. The above maxim perfectly

    reflects the importance of mining carried on

    over the ages in the area of Lower Silesia,

    especially in the Sudety Mts., where

    adverse weather conditions and poor soils

    did not favour stock-farming and plant-

    growing, and the real source of wealth and

    prosperity of their inhabitants were the

    treasures hidden deep in the mountains by

    the Nature. These treasures are made up of

    numerous mineral deposits, especially

    metal and ore deposits, including gold,

    silver and copper, the mining origin of

    which is covered with mists of history and

    can be traced back to as early as the bronze

    age. Although the territorial notion of

    Silesia underwent essential changes

    throughout its history, the mining of

    different ores had been successfully carried

    on here for many ages. To the north and to

    the east of its boundaries no mining activity

    had been carried on, it was only in the

    distant Bytom and Tarnowskie Góry region

    (the Polish Ore Basin) that mining activity

    was carried on a large scale. To the west,

    the nearest mining activity area was the

    region of Freiberg. It should be stressed that

    despite the distinct separation of the Lower

    Silesian mining, it took advantage of the

    experience of other, important mining

    centres in Europe, achieving a high level of

    mining and metallurgic technology

    (Dziekoński, 1972). In order to respect the

    old divisions, the notions of Lower Silesia -

    Silesia Inferior, Niederschlesien for the

    west Silesia and the Upper Silesia - Silesia

    Superior, Oberschlesien for the east Silesia

    were used. The borders of Poland on the

    Bóbr and Kwisa Rivers were established in

  • Acta Geoturistica volume 4 (2013), number 1, 15-26


    the year of 1000, when the Wrocław

    bishopric was created and they did not

    undergo any major changes throughout the

    Middle Ages. The south border constituted

    the massifs of the Sudety Mountains

    (Czapliński et. al., 2002). Despite the

    complex and turbulent political history of

    the Silesia, mining activity has always an

    important economic role, providing

    livelihood for their inhabitants and for

    regional development opportunities. The

    origin of many Lower Silesian places is

    associated with mining. Gold, ores of silver

    and lead, copper, tin, arsenic, cobalt

    chromium, iron, coal, lignite, building

    stone, and even mineral waters constituted

    large resources of that region. However, the

    subject of interest for former miners were,

    first of all, numerous, small polymetallic

    ore deposits, usually containing a few basic

    ore minerals, exploited in a documented

    manner over the period from the 13 th

    to 20 th

    century (Dziekoński, 1972). In Lower

    Silesia, more precisely in the Sudety Mts.,

    these types of ore formations encompass a

    number of deposits and occurrences

    characterised by multicomponent and

    variable mineralisation. The area of their

    occurrence is the Sudety Mts. and their

    foothills, where veins or mineralised zones

    reach the length of more than 2 km

    (Radzimowice), and the depth of more than

    300 m (Kowary) (Dziedzic et al., 1979). In

    the initial mining period, first of all the

    richest and easily available deposits at

    small depths have been exploited, and the

    vein deposits initially evaluated as abundant

    often turned out to be small and difficult in


    Lower Silesia is divided into six main

    regions in respect of the useful mineral

    occurrence These are: Kłodzko Land,

    Sowie Mountains along with the Wałbrzych

    region, the foothills of the Karkonosze

    Mountains, exploited gold-dust deposits in

    the vicinity of Lwówek, Złotoryja and

    Legnica, the so-called North-Sudeten

    Zechstein depression (having outcrops

    south of Lwówek and Złotoryja and near

    Grodziec), and Fore-Sudeten Zechstein

    monocline situated north of Lubin

    (Dziekoński, 1972). The historically known

    deposits were exploited over many ages and

    they were mostly the so-called “open

    deposits”, i.e. the ore bodies of those

    deposits were at least partly exposed by the

    erosion surface, which allowed their early

    discovery and extraction (Dziedzic et al.,


    German scientists Cloos, Berg, Bederke

    and Petrascheck were the first to undertake

    work aimed to systematise the information

    on Lower Silesia deposit occurrence and

    genesis, in combination with geological and

    structural assumptions. In 1936, the

    comprehensive study “Schlesien.

    Bodenschätze und Industrie“, containing

    the evaluation of geological basis for the

    development of mineral extraction and

    processing within the area of Lower Silesia,

    was completed by a group of German

    scientists and researchers of that period,

    such as O. Spangenberg, E. Bederke, O.

    Eisenkraut, I. Bartsch, L. Gäbler, F. Ilner,

    A. Metzing, M. Morgeroth, E. Pralle, D.

    Rademacher, F.W. Siegert, H. Sinnreich,

    W. Thust (Madziarz, 2009). Since 1945 that

    work has been intensely continued by the

    Polish researchers and it has resulted in the

    discovery of a huge polymetallic deposit of

    copper and silver, and consequently in the

    modern-day boom in the ore mining in

    Lower Silesia. The deposits on the Fore-

    Sudeten monocline, which were discovered

    only after World War II, are ranked among

    the largest in the world and are nowadays

    intensely exploited in the three modern

    underground mines.

    The history of Lower Silesian ore

    mining is well known and mostly

    associated with the gold mining which was

    carried on in many centres and was of

    special importance to them (Dziedzic et al.,

    1979; Dziekoński, 1972; Quiring, 1948;

    Sachs, 1906). First of all, the area in the

    former Legnica Duchy, between the rivers

    Kaczawa and Bóbr in the region of

    Lwówek, Złotoryja, Mikołajowice and

    Bolesławiec was distinguished by the

    volume of production. The boom in gold

  • Acta Geoturistica volume 4 (2013), number 1, 15-26


    mining took place in the years 1180–1241,

    and only in the first half of the 13 th


    the mining law was introduced for the gold

    mines as one of the earliest in Europe

    (Lwówek in 1278, Złotoryja in 1342). On

    the European scale, Złoty Stok became a

    recognised centre of gold mining and

    metallurgy, where the arsenic ore deposits

    containing gold were exploited. There, the

    beginnings of mining goes back to 1291,

    and the largest boom is traced back to 15 th

    century and the first half of the 16 th


    Till the end of the 17 th

    century the goal of

    the mining activity was the production of

    gold, and since the beginning of the 18 th

    century the activity had been concentrated

    on the production of arsenic, with gold

    being recovered as a by-product. The

    exploitation in Złoty Stock was finally

    brought to an end in 1962.